By Tressa Eckermann, Senior Staff Writer
Taking place over a span of three days, “Safe House” stars Denzel Washington as Tobin Frost, a rogue CIA agent who has been off the grid for almost 10 years. In Cape Town, South Africa he walks into the American consulate and turns himself in. He’s transported to a safe house run by young CIA agent Matt Weston (Ryan Reynolds), desperate to get a new, more exciting post. Frost is considered one of the most dangerous men in the world and is now Weston’s “house guest.”
After the safe house is compromised by men chasing Frost, Weston is forced to go on the run with him all the while confronting his own suspicions about the men he works for, including the head of the CIA (Sam Shepard), his handler (Brendan Gleeson) and fellow CIA agent (Vera Farmiga).
Director Daniel Espinosa is young—this is only his sixth film—but he’s created a tightly wound thriller. This is evidenced by two of the first action scenes. The safe house break-in and the car chase that follows are filmed wonderfully.
Espinosa films every scene with a precise, easy-to-follow, zesty style that never slows down and barely gives the audience any time to breathe. The action starts early and doesn’t let up.
I had my doubts about Reynolds. I still haven’t forgiven him for “Green Lantern.” Action star hasn’t ever really been a skin that he wears well, but because he’s working with pretty good material and actors that are consistently talented, he pulls off his role very well. The chemistry between Reynolds and Washington is palpable and entertaining.
Not surprisingly, Washington is the one who steals the show. In certain spots, when the action subsides and there is a rare lull, he’s the one who carries the film. He’s charming, terrifying and destructive. Frost cuts a path through every scene, destroying everything in his path.
Some of the best scenes in the film, though, belong to the criminally underused Shepard. In the few scenes he does have, the legendary actor and playwright adds a levity to the film, evening out some of the more unbelievable moments.
Yes, “Safe House,” is an action movie at its heart. But it’s also about lies and the secrets that seep into the characters’ brains. “After a while even the truth starts to sound like a lie,” Frost tells Weston early in the film.
These days it’s hard to find an action movie that isn’t completely mindless and cliché, but “Safe House” is done really well. It’s very effective, wrenching, wonderfully made, well acted and an intriguing story.